GIS CARTOGRAPHY AND THE CIRCULAR PROCESS
M.L. Austreng-von Wyl
Axes Systems AG
In the current digital age, map users and users of geo-data have begun to make demands on the information that is available to them. These are users who are accustomed to up-to-date information which is available at the touch of a button. At the same time, governmental agencies and privately held publishers who are the keepers of data and makers of maps, are being forced to produce up-to-date information faster, cheaper and with fewer people.
Efficiency and economy in this digital world depends on one thing – that processes are fine-tuned and unnecessary steps are eliminated. Re-engineering tried and true processes and changing tasks in the accompanying process chain is a challenging undertaking.
Traditional manual and digital cartography uses a static, linear process as its foundation. State-of-the-art GIS cartography requires a new way of looking at the end-to-end cartographic process, which takes into account the new demands of the GIS cartography age.
Most manufacturing processes, including the digital cartography process, which have evolved from the industrial age are linear and disparate processes. In linear processes there is an initial input which leads to a chain of actions and decisions and eventually leads to an output or, alternatively, incorporates several outputs along the chain. In the past, because cartography was a mainly a manual, partially computer-assisted task designed to produce one single output, it lent itself well to a linear process. State-of-the-art GIS cartography has changed both the inputs of the cartography process and added outputs along the entire length of the end-to-end process chain. These inputs may include new data models, additional data models and updated data, among others.
In order to satisfy the demands of the market for up-to-date information, to simplify disparate processes, to move beyond the currently prevalent silo thinking, including product-specific data bases, environments and architecture, to ensure that the inputs of GIS cartography remain useful, the traditional linear process must be revised to reflect a dynamic, circular process. A circular cartographic process allows for not only a reduction of redundancies along the process chain, but also a continuous introduction of information that is integrated into a range of outputs that may occur at multiple points in the process. If this circular process is integrated into the current GIS cartography discipline then systems must be implemented to support this new way of thinking about map-making and digital cartographic products.